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Why are Celebrities Like Shaquille O'Neal & Matt Damon Being Allowed to go on Actual SWAT Raids?

In September 2006, a SWAT team raided a house in Bedford County, Virginia, for Internet-related child porn. There are two things that make this raid highly unusual and noteworthy:

  1. They raided the wrong house. Reportedly, the police unit made a mistake when tracing the computer's IP address, and ended up holding an innocent family at gunpoint.

  2. Basketball star Shaquille O'Neil went along on the raid and acted as a police officer.

celebrity obsessed

NBA star Shaquille O'Neil is an Honorary Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a reserve deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Virginia.

Now, according to a U.S. Marshals press release, Shaq was appointed as an Honorary Special Deputy U.S. Marshal back in 2005, and was the national spokesperson for the Safe Surfin' Foundation, which aims to combat Internet sexual predators.

During his basketball off-season, Shaq would work with task force investigators, according to the press release, to help "guard the net from sexual predators."

"Shaq will be a tremendous asset in helping law enforcement, parents, and communities fight online crime and sexual exploitation of children," said Bedford County, Virginia Sheriff Mike Brown, who swore Shaq in as a reserve deputy sheriff in Bedford County earlier in 2005.

Matt Damon Also Goes on Police Raid

While Shaq reportedly received training and certification as a police officer prior to his NBA career, Matt Damon may have far less police experience, yet was allowed to participate in a real crack-house raid with Massachusetts police in preparation for the movie "The Departed."

celebrity worship syndrome

Experts say one-third of all Americans and British now have Celebrity Worship Syndrome (CWS), an unhealthy interest in the lives of the rich and famous.

"For instance, this raid on the crack house, I'm sure I was in no real danger, but they brought twice as many cops as they usually do. I was in the back of the line, so I had my bullet-proof vest on, standing there going, what am I doing here? I didn't go in until they cleared the house, but I got to see them do it," said Matt Damon in a interview.

Just How Celebrity-Crazed is American Culture?

Of course, when celebrities are allowed to go on actual police raids in the interest of making films, it begs the question, "Why would police agencies approve this?" And, "Have we, as a society, crossed the celebrity-loving line?"

Clearly, there are dangers in celebrity endorsements, which now peddle everything from soda pop to anxiety medications to running shoes -- particularly when it comes to children. But also, according to a team of researchers led by James Houran, a psychologist with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, one-third of all Americans and British now have CWS, or Celebrity Worship Syndrome, which is described as "an unhealthy interest in the lives of the rich and famous."

Is this obsession with the rich and famous really unhealthy, or just the good old American way of life? Tell us what YOU think!

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Recommended Reading

Is Jennifer Aniston Secretly Pregnant with Tom Cruise's Baby?

The Dangers of Celebrity Endorsements

United States Marshals Service

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